Maurice Ravel

Ravel Double Bill

9 November - 14 November
Screenings from the 2012 Festival

View Australian Cinema listings 9 - 14 November

L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges

"This is Glyndebourne operating once again at world-class level, and is by some distance the most captivating staging of this magical opera I have seen. If there are tickets left for the remaining performances this week and next, grab them fast."

Hugh Canning, Sunday Times August 12

Ravel’s two one-act operas will reunite director Laurent Pelly and conductor Kazushi Ono, who made their Glyndebourne debuts in 2008 with Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel. While L’enfant et les sortilèges shares with that opera a child’s-eye view of a sometimes threatening world, L’heure espagnole is a thoroughly adult confection.

The play on which Ravel based his opéra espagnole is a clever conceit set in the house of a clockmaker. It compares the wound-up mechanism of a clock with the erotic compulsions driving flesh-and-blood humans. Concepción devises a complex sequence of moves and counter-moves to conceal the presence of her various admirers. While directing these activities she becomes increasingly impressed by the physical attributes of her unwitting accomplice, Ramiro.

Stéphanie d’Oustrac, who last sang at Glyndebourne as Sesto in Giulio Cesare, will sing Concepción, while Canadian baritone Elliot Madore will make his UK and Glyndebourne debut as Ramiro.

In L’enfant et les sortilèges, inanimate objects come to life when a child, fed up with doing his homework, throws a temper tantrum. All the things that have been damaged by him start to voice their objections: a broken cup and teapot, a shepherd and shepherdess from the wallpaper he ripped, a battered armchair and the princess from the torn pages of a story book.

When the sums from his homework and the animals and plants in the garden turn on the child as well, Ravel’s music reaches a fierce climax. Only the child’s kindness to an injured squirrel saves him and brings the opera to a touchingly poignant conclusion.

Rated five stars by the Daily Mail.

Rated four stars by the Guardian.

 “...a sparkling evening,” says The Independent.

“ evening of genuine enchantment,” says The Stage.

Read an interview with director Laurent Pelly on Opera Today.

A new production for the 2012 Festival

Supported by Michael and Dorothy Hintze

Sung in French with English supertitles

This production of L’heure espagnole was originally created for Opéra National de Paris

The Glyndebourne Festival 2012 Ravel Double Bill is a co-production with the Saito Kinen Festival

L’heure espagnole / L’enfant et les sortilèges. Property of Editions Durand Paris (Universal Music Publishing Classical). By arrangement with G. Ricordi & Co (London) Limited.

Listen to the Ravel Double Bill podcast (21 mins)

Peggy Reynolds gives an introduction to two of the early twentieth century’s most intriguing operas, Maurice Ravel’s L’heure Espagnole and L’enfant et les Sortileges. General Director of Glyndebourne David Pickard praises Ravel’s mastery of orchestration and the unique soundworlds he creates in these two fascinating works. Richard Langham Smith, Research Professor at the Royal College of Music, explores the operatic farce of L’heure Espagnole and considers psychoanalytic readings of L’enfant et les Sortileges. And pianist and musicologist Dr Emily Kilpatrick explores the texts upon which the operas were based and tells us of Ravel’s fascination with Spain, childhood, and the music of machines. (Producer: Mair Bosworth)

Musical extracts used with kind permission of Decca.

Download this podcast (right click and select 'Save file as')

L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges

Maurice Ravel

The performance is captured live

This performance can be seen 9 November - 14 November

We want to share our work with as many people as possible. Broadcasts have been part of the Glyndebourne story since the 1930s, and in 2007 we were the first opera house in the UK to screen performances into cinemas.

Please note that intervals for all events are 30 minutes. For the many people now enjoying opera at the cinema, 30 minutes is a more realistic length of time to take a break. This means that we start our cinema transmissions a little after curtain-up at Glyndebourne and catch up for the second half.

Ticket prices:
£20 (full price) / £15 (concessions) / £13 members (Picturehouse venues only, prices may vary otherwise)

Click on the following website for more details of the season, or you can either telephone or visit your local cinema.

Picture House

L’heure espagnole 

Clocks of various shapes and sizes stand around Torquemada’s shop, striking pleasantly. The muleteer Ramiro comes in to have his watch mended. Torquemada’s wife Concepcion enters to remind her husband it is time for him to regulate the municipal clocks. She complains that he has not placed one of the two grandfather clocks in her room, as requested. It’s too heavy to move, he responds. He asks Ramiro to await his return while he goes about his business.

Concepcion and Ramiro stand looking at one other. She hints about having the clock carried to her room. Nothing easier, says the muscular muleteer. As he takes it upstairs, Gonzalve is heard arriving.

Concepcion’s lover is a poet who waxes lyrical as they prepare to fling themselves into each other’s arms. On his reappearance she thanks Ramiro. To get rid of him again, she asks him to move the other clock upstairs, bringing the first one back. While he goes back upstairs to retrieve the first clock, Concepcion shoves Gonzalve into the second. 

Suddenly the banker Don Inigo turns up, enquiring after Concepcion’s husband. It was he, he admits, who appointed Torquemada to the job of looking after the town’s clocks to get him out of the way. He tries to take Concepcion’s hand. The return of Ramiro with clock number 1 saves her. Ramiro picks up the second clock (containing Gonzalve) without difficulty. Concepcion is impressed and follows him upstairs. 

Left alone, Inigo decides he would improve his image as a playful lover by hiding in the remaining clock. As he does so Ramiro reappears, charged by Concepcion with minding the shop. Suddenly she returns, complaining at the upstairs clock’s noisy innards. Would Ramiro kindly bring it back down? He instantly obliges.

Inigo declares his love to Concepcion. She begins to see his potential. Ramiro returns with the first clock (containing Gonzalve) and offers to take up the second (containing Inigo). Concepcion accepts his suggestion.

Opening the first clock, she tries to dismiss Gonzalve, who is reluctant to leave. She deserts him and he retires into his clock as Ramiro returns. He looks around the shop with admiration; if he were not a muleteer, he would like to be a clockmaker. As Concepcion returns, he divines her unhappiness with the second clock, and goes to retrieve it. 

Left alone, Concepcion expresses dissatisfaction with both her lovers. As Ramiro returns yet again, she appreciates his physical strength. She sends him back to her room – this time without a clock to carry – then follows him.

Inigo and Gonzalve peep out of their hiding places, shutting themselves back in as Torquemada returns. He apologises for keeping them waiting. Noting their interest in the insides of the two clocks, he insists that they buy them. 

Ramiro and Concepcion return and all join in the moral: in the pursuit of love, there comes a moment when it’s the muleteer’s turn.

L’enfant et les sortilèges

A Child is grumbling as he does his homework; he plots naughty deeds. 

His Mother enters to check on him. She is cross that he has done nothing but spatter the carpet with ink; he responds by putting out his tongue. His punishment is dry bread and tea without sugar while he considers his behaviour.

Left alone, the angry Child gives way to naughtiness. He knocks the Teapot and Chinese Cup off the table. He pricks the caged Squirrel with his pen nib. He pulls the Tom Cat’s tail.  He pokes the Fire and kicks the kettle over. He breaks the pendulum of the Grandfather Clock. He tears up his books. He vandalises the painted figures on the wallpaper.  

As he prepares to fling himself into the Armchair, it hobbles away. Now the room comes alive. As the Child watches, the Armchair joins with the Chair, both demanding their freedom from him. The Grandfather Clock complains at the damage done to him. The Teapot and Chinese Cup threaten revenge and dance off. 

Feeling cold, the Child approaches the Fire, who tells him that he warms the good but burns the bad. The Child has offended the household gods that protect him. He begins to feel afraid. 

The wallpaper figures, including the Shepherd and Shepherdess, mourn their destruction. The Child weeps. Out of one of his torn books rises the Princess, complaining that he has wrecked the story she was in; he is too weak to rescue her from her enchanter and she sinks underground. Arithmetic, a little old man, arrives and he and his Numbers bombard the Child with questions.

The Tom Cat, emerging from beneath the Armchair, spits at him and joins with the female Cat in drawing the Child into the garden. A Tree groans at the wound the Child inflicted on him the day before. Feeling pity, the Child lays his cheek against it. The garden begins to teem with life. The Dragonfly searches for his mate, whom the Child regretfully admits he caught and pinned to the wall. The Bat tells him he has killed the mother of his children. The Squirrel warns the Frog against the cage the Child will put him in. He realises that the animals love each other, but not him. He calls for his mother.

The Animals and Trees unite in a desire for revenge. They throw themselves upon him. A Squirrel is injured. The Child binds his paw with a ribbon. The animals notice that he, too, has been hurt. Concerned, they surround and tend him. They call out for his mother. 

As a light goes on in the house, the animals withdraw, praising the Child’s newfound wisdom and kindness. Holding out his arms, the Child calls for his mother. 

George Hall

Creative team

Conductor Kazushi Ono
Laurent Pelly
Set Designers
L’heure espagnole Caroline Ginet and Florence Evrard
L’enfant et les sortilèges Barbara De Limburg
Costume Designer Laurent Pelly
Lighting Designer Joël Adam

L’heure espagnole cast

Ramiro Elliot Madore
François Piolino
Stéphanie d'Oustrac
Alek Shrader
Don Íñigo Gómez
Paul Gay

L’enfant et les sortilèges cast

Child Khatouna Gadelia
Mother/Chinese Cup/Dragonfly Elodie Méchain
Armchair/Tree Paul Gay
Chair/Bat Julie Pasturaud
Grandfather Clock/Tom Cat Elliot Madore
Teapot/Arithmetic/Frog François Piolino
Fire/Princess/Nightingale Kathleen Kim
Shepherd Natalia Brzezinska
Shepherdess Hila Fahima
Cat/Squirrel Stéphanie d’Oustrac
Owl Kirsty Stokes

London Philharmonic Orchestra

The Glyndebourne ChorusL’enfant et les sortilèges

Audio files: 

With kind permission of Deutsche Grammophon

This recording is available to buy on CD from the Glyndebourne Shop

Torquemada (François Piolino) in L’heure espagnole, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Ramiro (Elliot Madore) in L’heure espagnole, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Gonzalve (Alek Shrader) in L’heure espagnole, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Concepción (Stéphanie d'Oustrac) and Torquemada (François Piolino) in L’heure espagnole, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Concepción (Stéphanie d'Oustrac) in L’heure espagnole, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Don Íñigo Gómez (Paul Gay) in L’heure espagnole, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Child (Khatouna Gadelia) in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Chair (Julie Pasturaud) in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Grandfather Clock (Elliot Madore) and Child (Khatouna Gadelia) in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand
Teapot (François Piolino), Child (Khatouna Gadelia) and Chinese Cup (Elodie Méchain), Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Child (Khatouna Gadelia) and Fire (Kathleen Kim) in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Child (Khatouna Gadelia) and wallpaper figures in L’enfant et les sortilèges. Photo: Simon Annand.
Child (Khatouna Gadelia) in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Frog (François Piolino) in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.
Child (Khatouna Gadelia) in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Festival 2012. Photo: Simon Annand.


The premiere was a delightful evening at the opera, in the literal sense of being full of delights from beginning to end: exquisite singing, sensitive accompaniment from the pit and, especially in L'enfant, some of the most imaginative and witty staging I can remember. Once again, Glyndebourne takes challenging material and turns it into a real triumph.

I have waited all my life since I was a young music undergraduate, to see this opera staged (L'Enfant et les Sortileges). I was not disappointed. What an evening of enchantment and sheer delight!! Thank you so much Glyndebourne for such an utterly charming and delicious double bill. Please can we have a DVD? To emerge afterwards into the somewhat magical gardens of Glyndebourne, and sit under the stars drinking our coffee, seemed just a continuation of the wonderful place we had just been transported to. Thank you so much, and also for all the productions that have so delighted and inspired me this wonderful 2012 season. The memories will carry me through the winter and onwards, looking forward to future glories!

These are superb productions, especially L'Enfant, and form a wonderful evening. I am a little concerned at the quality of some of the singing and perhaps at the anonymity or the orchestra. There were stretches when the orchestra seemed to have gone to sleep. The staging, however, is really great and I look forward to an early revival of both pieces with a better conductor and some stronger singers.

Ravel Double Bill:

We loved both shows. Hope you don't mind a few suggestions -

The soloists in L'Heure Espagnole should be aware that their shadows can be seen (from the Upper Circle seats) in the doorway to Conception's bedroom.

It would have enhanced the production of L'Heure Espagnole if one clock, perhaps the big one over the shop door, was showing "real time" for the story - ticking the minutes away until Torquemada was due to return.

In L'enfant et les sortileges, the Arithmetic section is much clearer on our recording (conducted by Baur) and the scene would have been even funnier if the words could have been more clearly articulated.

But these are purely details in what was a wonderful evening. Congratulations to all co0ncerned.

Ravel was the one production we were able to make this 2012 season: and we are very pleased we did get to it! A very thought-provoking evening (esp 'L'enfant'). Both productions were excellent, with superb music and a wonderful conductor in Kazushi Ono - a fine interpreter of Ravel. The set designs were really interesting, with a lot of attention to detail. Truly a wonderful musical experience - and thanks for laying on a dash of evening sunshine too! We look forward to next year.

we were delighted to be at the dress rehearsal for Ravel Double Bill yesterday and were greatly helped by the podcast - thanks. A wonderful evening both operas a delight with L'enfant stealing the most praise. And the gardens looked spectacular.


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